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In 2014, despite continuous efforts of governments and partners to fight hunger in the Sahel, the situation remains of great concern. Since January 2014 and following the early start of the lean season, an increasing number of poor and very poor households with low levels or depleted food stocks will depend on markets to access food until the next harvest (August-September). Without adequate funding, measures that could prevent the food security situation from worsening are delayed and the capacities of vulnerable communities to cope with repeated shocks are further decreasing.
For 2014 and in the framework of the 2014-2016 Sahel Strategic Response Plan, FAO is appealing for a total of USD 116 million to assist more than 7.6 million people with immediate livelihood interventions in the Sahel. Out of this funding, required to support crisis-hit farmers and pastoralists with immediate livelihood interventions, only USD 16.4 million has been received (14 percent of the appeal).
With contributions received, FAO is supporting more than 1.2 million vulnerable people in the Sahel. Quality crop seeds and tools have been distributed to vulnerable farmers for the main agricultural campaign. The assistance is now focusing on the provision of essential agricultural inputs for the preparation of the irrigated cultures and the lean season agricultural campaign, based on vegetable and flood plain recession production. FAO also assists vulnerable pastoralists through the recapitalization of herds, the distribution of veterinary products, water point rehabilitation and trainings. These activities are essential to restore herders' livelihoods following the difficult lean season.
While these activities are crucial to protect the livelihoods of vulnerable people, the remaining needs are significant and funding is still needed for crop production during the main agricultural campaign. Poor and very poor rural households that are unable to access agriculture and do not benefit from livelihood support, will continue to depend on casual labour for income and markets to access food. The most vulneable families started selling their meagre assets, including livestock, as many are becoming indebted.
Partners still have the opportunity in the coming months to support food insecure households by protecting and rehabilitating their livelihoods. Building on recent gains and ensuring resilience of rural communities is crucial and this opportunity should not be missed.